Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Blog Post About Blog Posts

Here's the deal with this post. I was going to write it for one website but by the time it was finished they decided they didn't want it anymore because what they were focusing on had changed. Journalism. Then I kind of halfheartedly tried to get this onto other places so it wouldn't be a complete waste and now I'm just posting it here for you lovely people to enjoy. Please excuse the somewhat professional sounding language. That's not what this blog is about.

When Peter Merholz jokingly said "blog" as slang for Jorn Barger's "weblog" term in 1999, little did he know that it would soon become synonymous with the new expressive, personal and participatory version of the internet: Web 2.0. By giving users a platform to share their thoughts, information and perspective in a variety of media, sites like Blogger, Wordpress, and Tumblr have become some of the most popular sites on the net with Alexa traffic rankings of 7, 18, and 46 respectively. As those who grew up surrounded by technology continue further into their adulthood, activities like blogging are becoming more and more prominent in their lives.

"I think it's more interesting to see the perspective of someone in your own age group," said Jenna Frasier, 19, a native of South Hackensack, N.J., currently studying journalism at Northwestern University. "The writing is clearer and more conversational." Having a keen grasp on blogging is even more important for aspiring journalists like Frasier as blogs like "The Huffington Post" and "The Drudge Report" are having more and more influence in areas where traditional journalism previously dominated. Also, entertainment blogs like "Slashfilm" or Frasier's own personal movie blog "" are picking up where newspaper film critics left off.

Those hoping to make a living off of their blog are told to use a variety of promotion techniques like backlinking and search engine optimization. However, for some bloggers, promotion comes unexpectedly. After launching his creative writing blog "Linguistic Gimmicks" in March 2011, 19-year-old Northwestern University film student Robbie Stern, from St. Johns, Fla., was given the chance to have his stories published by "North by Northwestern," an award-winning student magazine. "I was very excited at the prospect of expanding my audience," said Stern. "I've gotten a great response from people reading my stories. I'm excited to have this new publishing outlet."

Beyond just spreading their information or sharing their work with others, blogging has allowed students to more effectively do something they have always done: goof off. "Yeast Fairchild" is a blog started by the residents of Northwestern University's Communications Residential College located in the East Fairchild building. Inspired by the site "Bread People," "Yeast Fairchild" takes the names of the building's residents and turns them into bread puns with matching photo manipulated pictures. For example, Jordan Minor becomes "Jordanish Minor." Besides just being incredibly silly, the site has helped to foster a stronger community between the freshmen and returning sophomores.

"I'll be sitting at dinner and all I will see is a table full of bread people," said Yeast Fairchild co-founder Connor (Naanor) Sears, a 19-year-old Northwestern University journalism student from Knoxville, Tenn. "There have actually been moments where I've known a freshmen by their bread name before their real name. It's funny but also kind of scary.

The internet is still a relatively new phenomenon. As such, blogging and other web-based forms of communication still have a lot of changes ahead of them. The people that will drive these changes are students like Frasier, Stern and Sears as well of those who have yet to start. For anyone out there thinking about blogging themselves, consider this endorsement by Stern, "Why not post your material online? Only good and heightened exposure can come from it."

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